Goal Click Founder Matthew Barrett on UNHCR partnership, expansion plans & Covid-19 situation

The Playknox spoke with Matthew Barrett, founder of Goal Click about their latest partnership with UNHCR, expansion plans and Covid-19 situation among other things.


Tell us about Goal Click

Goal Click is a global football storytelling project. We find inspirational people from all over the world and ask them to tell stories about their own football lives and communities – all initially using disposable cameras and their own words.

We give people the chance to tell their own story and show what football means to them. Rather than an “outsider” coming in to tell their stories, we focus on the “insider” view, by giving people the power, control, and freedom to create and tell the world the story of their own lives through the lens of football.

Goal Click started in 2014. We wanted to help people understand the world and each other through the common language of football. There are so many people with incredible stories that are simply not being heard.

At its heart lies a mission to find the most compelling stories; from civil war amputees in Sierra Leone and fan groups in Serbia, to refugees in Jordan and girls’ football teams in India, all the way up to players with the US Women’s National Team.

We received our first camera back from Sierra Leone in August 2014 – from Pastor Abraham Bangura, a church minister and the manager of the national amputee football association, SLASA. Since then we have collaborated with individuals and organisations in over 80 countries. We have also hosted photography exhibitions across the world in London, Doha, Moscow, Budapest, São Paulo, New York City, Manchester, Paris, and Lyon. 



What’s the strategy behind your recent partnership with UNHCR?

Ahead of World Refugee Day (20 June), we launched a new series called “Goal Click Refugees” in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The series collaborates with refugees and asylum seekers around the world to tell their personal stories and experiences through football in refugee camps and in host communities. 

Now more than ever is a time to hear the voices and see the perspectives of the marginalised and dispossessed around the world. The series is a platform for refugee voices which are mostly unheard and silenced. The photos and stories aim capture the realities of their football lives and communities from their own perspective, using football as the common factor.

These are important stories to tell. Most people do not realise that there are 70m displaced people around the world. And the fact that most of these people are hosted by countries in Africa and the Middle East, not Europe or North America, is a really important point we wanted to make. Goal Click Refugees tries to show a range of these scenarios, from displaced Syrians in Jordanian refugee camps to Sudanese and Congolese refugees in Kenya, alongside the experiences of refugees who have arrived in Europe.


We were grateful to work with some incredible football charities and NGOs to help create the project and find participants, such as Football United in Australia, Green Kordofan in South Sudan, Faulu in Kenya, and Balon Mundial in Italy. 



What are the other initiatives Goal Click has undertaken and what are your future goals?

Goal Click has created many storytelling series, often focused on a specific city (London, New York City), a specific country (Qatar, Russia), a tournament (UEFA Women’s Champions League, Homeless World Cup) or an issue in football, such as refugee football or elite women’s football. We often work with partners to create these series, and we have been fortunate to collaborate with organisations such as FIFA, UEFA, Qatar 2022, the Homeless World Cup, adidas and New York City FC.

The future goals for Goal Click are to tell stories in different ways and formats – becoming a genuine multimedia organisation. We are planning to create an ongoing podcast series, while we are exploring short films and live storytelling events. 

We are of course looking to find new commercial partners (sports organisations, clubs, brands, media companies) to collaborate with on new series. 


And most importantly we want to continue supporting some of the people and charities we work with, including the incredible Common Goal, the collective fund that supports football charities. They recently launched a Covid-19 Response Fund to support many football charities around the world.


What has been the impact of COVID-19 on your organisation? How are you dealing with the same?

Many of our new partnerships and potential series are understandably on hold for now, with the exception of Goal Click Refugees with UNHCR. Although we often plan stories months in advance, the near-total shutdown of football around the world has obviously affected our work. But we aim to be ready to tell stories around the resumption of football.

Our focus for the past few months has been launching the refugee series, but now we can turn our attention to other initiatives.  



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